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A Kirkus Star? No Way!


I remember when I got my first Kirkus Review. I had just turned 16 and it was during track practice after school when my mom texted me the exciting news.

I knew what @KirkusReviews was: the gold standard of literary reviews, according to my librarian aunt. I had spent two months of babysitting money to get the review and then patiently waited a few months for it. Kirkus Reviews rates books traditionally and independently published and it's well known for its high standards, professionalism, and unbiased honesty.

So I was beyond thrilled to open my email and read the words, "multilayered, resonant and intriguing" of what would be an overall very positive, thoughtful review of my first book The Fox Trot.


Two years later, while helping my older brother move into his freshman dorm I landed my second good review for my next book, Escaping Elsewhere: "A lively, smart novel for imaginative teens and adults alike."

Teen-me was thrilled by the prospects of getting two notable reviews from a platform like Kirkus, a literary agent would even remark over the phone, "I see you have two acclaimed reviews by Kirkus" which left an impression that I wasn't just some kid scribbling stories but an accredited author with potential. The positive feedback from Kirkus in high school gave me the courage to spend many college nights toiling on the production of MUP, wondering endlessly about what sort of reception my debut graphic novel would receive.

Friends can give you the thumbs up, teachers and parents the praise, and kids the gleeful "it's cool!" But as an author and illustrator what I longed to receive was a brutally honest, professional review from an established entity like Kirkus. I just needed to know if MUP had what it takes. So minutes after uploading my final version, I submitted MUP to Kirkus in September.

This morning the question I'd been asking for four years was answered. What will Kirkus Reviews have to say about Mup? Well: "A bold, entertaining, and intelligent environmental tale with great emotional resonance—a winner." - Kirkus Reviews As it turns out MUP received an outstanding review! The best Kirkus review I have ever received and the biggest shocker of all: a Kirkus star! Which, after doing a little research, is apparently only awarded to 2-3% of all the book titles reviewed, or 200 out of the ten thousand books they review a year.

I'm beyond honored that MUP received such high praise. Not only does it validate all those late nights in college spent creating MUP, but it makes Arianna Machado's words ring true:


"You never know what the future holds."

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Raea Gragg is an author, illustrator, and animator specializing in graphic novels and children's books
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